Designed specifically for critical care physicians, Critical Care SmartBrief is a complimentary twice weekly e-mail newsletter. Compiled from thousands of sources including news sites and blogs, it provides the latest litigation, research and policy news in the critical care community. Visit the archives to access previous issues. Mobile device versions are also available. Read the top stories shared by Critical Care SmartBrief readers.

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 Critical Care SmartBrief

Staph aureus colonization tied to risk of infection
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization is associated with increased risk of subsequent infection during and after hospitalization, according to a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases of Department of Veterans Affairs data for 985,626 hospital admissions. "Hospitalized patients who are colonized with MRSA, regardless of whether they were colonized on admission or acquired it during their inpatient stay, are at high risk for MRSA infection," VA epidemiology researcher Richard Nelson said. Healio (free registration) (8/15)

Neonatologist wants to change neonatal abstinence syndrome care
Neonatologist Jodi Jackson is leading an effort in Kansas to change how hospitals treat neonatal abstinence syndrome so that mothers and infants are kept together, babies are held and comforted, and opioids are provided in decreasing dosages to ease withdrawal symptoms, rather than sending infants to the NICU. Jackson says many hospitals do not have practice standards for treating these infants. National Public Radio (8/16)

Liver transplant waitlist outcomes improve based on MELD-Na score allocation
Healio (free registration) (8/16)

Drug overdose mortality reaches new peak, CDC reports
Preliminary CDC data showed US drug overdose mortality hit record levels last year, increasing to more than 72,000 deaths, driven mainly by the continued increase in fatalities involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids rose by more than 9,000 from the prior year, reaching almost 30,000 deaths in 2017, while fatalities from heroin, prescription opioids and methadone have dropped. The Hill (8/15)

Trump administration looks to cut production of most-abused opioids
The Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration want to cut next year's production quotas for six of the most commonly abused opioid drugs by an average of 10%. The agencies said the proposal would support the administration's goal to reduce opioid prescribing by one-third in three years, and it "marks the third straight year of proposed reductions, which help reduce the amount of drugs potentially diverted for trafficking and used to facilitate addiction." Axios (8/16)

Calif., Mass. found to be leaders in cancer care
Medscape (free registration) (8/14)

DeSalvo: Health care has big problems, and tech can help
Health care leaders must engage technology such as Amazon's Alexa and drone delivery systems to improve public health care, said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., a former national coordinator for health IT. Technology experts are ready to help address two large and troubling trends in public health: declining life expectancy and increasing health costs, DeSalvo said. MedPage Today (free registration) (8/14)

Pharmacist shortage at rural hospitals alleviated by telepharmacy
Some rural hospitals and clinics are contracting with telepharmacy providers to ease the shortage of pharmacists and clinicians. Centralized Healthcare Solutions, operated by the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, offers some limited telemedicine services to rural areas that can't access or afford pharmacy staff. HealthLeaders Media (8/15)

Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.
Black Elk, medicine man and teacher